Science -- The Art of Recognizing the Blindingly Obvious
From the Wall Street Journal Best of the Web:
We just love this story in the New York Times science section:
Predatory killers often do far more than commit murder. Some have lured their victims into homemade chambers for prolonged torture. Others have exotic tastes--for vivisection, sexual humiliation, burning. Many perform their grisly rituals as much for pleasure as for any other reason.
Among themselves, a few forensic scientists have taken to thinking of these people as not merely disturbed but evil.
We guess a forensic scientist is someone who is able, after years of painstaking research, to figure out things that are blindingly obvious to most nonscientists.
That is pretty funny, but what is most striking about the New York Times Article is something that the Wall Street Journal leaves out:
Most psychiatrists assiduously avoid the word evil, contending that its use would precipitate a dangerous slide from clinical to moral judgment that could put people on death row unnecessarily and obscure the understanding of violent criminals.
Still, many career forensic examiners say their work forces them to reflect on the concept of evil, and some acknowledge they can find no other term for certain individuals they have evaluated.
* * *
He is now working on a book urging the profession not to shrink from thinking in terms of evil when appraising certain offenders, even if the E-word cannot be used as part of an official examination or diagnosis.
"We are talking about people who commit breathtaking acts, who do so repeatedly, who know what they're doing, and are doing it in peacetime" under no threat to themselves, said Dr. Michael Stone, the Columbia psychiatrist, who has examined several hundred killers at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in New Hampton, N.Y., and others at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, where he consults and teaches. "We know from experience who these people are, and how they behave," and it is time, he said, to give their behavior "the proper appellation."
Wow! Could it be that there is some scientific consensus being developed that some people are just plain evil? Some scientific support for the idea that we ought to be encouraging psychiatrists to acknowledge the existence of evil even if they cannot say so in proper diagnosis? This is interesting.